I love visiting Glasgow. I keep going back and finding new experiences, and of course revisiting some old favorites. Scottish weather is lovingly joked about, just like San Francisco or Portland Oregon weather is. The fact is, any country with changeable weather must be taken with amusement, how else can you survive when it really gets bad? We love to comment on the weather.
Rain, dreich, and more rain. We have that in Portland, other wise known as Puddleton. So when I keep traveling back to a land with the wets, people wonder why? The inhabitants are desperate to get to the Canary Islands or Spain, Italy, anywhere with a mild climate and that shiny orb in the sky. I get the question, “What, you live near California, why do you come here?” Simple, I love the place, can’t get enough. Lived in foggy, drippy port towns most of my life. Have that Viking ancestry and too pale of skin to go back to California. But mostly it’s places like Glasgow, teaming with life and music, food, culture and close proximity to magical day trips places like the Trossachs National Park that make it a great hub for exploration.
So what do you do when it is positively dripping, or worse, torrential? Most inhabitants bundle up inside and have tea, binge watch if not working, and some maybe while working. If you are one who gets restless when it pours and need to get out a bit, find whatever free entertainment you can for the best dreichy or drookit days. It’s heading into the Hols, so you need to save money where you can, or shop for gifts that help the museum out or become fun, white elephants. There’s plenty to be had in this town.
In my youth living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found I developed a taste for museums, and they were always a day well spent. In the US, most museums charge fees to get in. In the UK and Ireland, admission to most museums are free of charge, with special exhibits having fees. So you can have a mostly free visit to many museums. Free can be highly entertaining.
Kelvingrove Museum Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland
I keep coming back to this fabulous repository of artifacts and arts. Recently I went to the Frank Quietly Exhibit there, and the hours were well spent. The rest of the galleries will keep you busy with permanent or semipermanent collections, and a great way to keep the kids entertained for free. The museum has a classic European museum layout with many floors and galleries to disappear in, and a good place to have a tea half way through. The Life Collection features natural history, human history and prehistory sections, with the taxidermy animals being a favorite. The Egyptian area features interactive displays. One of the best spots is the technology and sciences galleries. A great place for the young and old alike.
In the Expressions Galleries, there are exhibits from painters and other artists. Monet, Gaugin and Renoir are featured. There are also many works from Scottish artists and The Glasgow Boys. This next year will be Charles Rennie Macintosh’s 150th birth year and an exhibition is being planned.
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, Scotland
A great museum on an amazing campus. Plan to spend quite a few hours in this beauty of a place, and a short walk from Kelvingrove. It’s a fabulous place with collections that should fit your every mood. James McNeill Whistler and Charles Rennie Macintosh have permanent collections there. The other collections feature art, archaeology, cultures, historical, coins and metal, fossils and a great medical exhibit. Check with the museum for hours of display and access since this is on the university campus.
People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
Aptly named of course for a great indoor garden experience and galleries of local history. This great local exhibition gets you in the feel for the history of Glasgow. From “Steamy” displays to local shops at the turn of the century, and other historical displays about everyday life. My favorite display was seeing Sir Billy Connolly’s famous Banana Boots after only seeing pictures and descriptions. The sheer size of the Big Yin’s unique foot equipage was boggling.
The Palace has a nice Victorian Glass House with a great botanics display and tea house. The line can get quite long for the tea. But well worth it after a few hours spent looking at display rooms.
Hidden Lane Tearoom, Finnieston, Glasgow
My favorite place to go back to for tea. This hidden gem has a great alley space with a eclectic food menu and great relaxation spaces, mismatched tables and chairs, and tea sets. Squeeze through the alley to get there, great to get off the Sauchiehall Street bustle for a bit, head to Argyle Street and spend a relaxing momment. Their clotted cream is the best, the real deal. Cakes, biscuits, savories and soup. And peace.
Ah, the very best thing to do when it rains and snows, brave the weather and find a book nook. Glasgow has many great new and used book stores. Problem is when you’re traveling you want to scoop up an armful, but really can’t fit it in. Just grab one or two, read and leave at your B&Bs with notes about your reading thoughts. You’ll have many dusty pages to chose from, at Voltaire and Rousseau(12-14 Otago Ln, Glasgow) it is quite a jumble to meander through, and that’s the fun. Don’t forget to look up Thistle Books, just in case you haven’t found everything imaginable to read. But once you have done two shops, you may as well do the rest.
Frank Quietly Exhibit at the Kelvingrove, Glasgow